Re-Imagining Aydon: The Archaeological Imagination and Polytemporal Design at Aydon Castle

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In the Summer of 2022, a group of designers worked with English Heritage to create an installation at Aydon Castle, a thirteenth-century fortified manor house in the north of England. The project – Re-imagining Aydon – exhibited contemporary domestic artefacts designed in response to the history, aesthetics and atmosphere of the place (Figure 1).
Using a number of the artefacts by way of illustration, this paper will examine how heritage sites offer a valuable opportunity to connect past, present and future in the creation and (re)interpretation of material culture. We considered Aydon Castle to have, what archaeologist Michael Shanks might term, “polytemporal” potential —a perfect location for a form of “archaeological imagination” to flourish and draw together past, present and future in order to discuss how humans have lived, and how they could and should live .
Re-imagining Aydon represented a dialogical engagement with time and place, proposing new ways to engage visitors with the site at the same time as introducing an alternative sensibility in the way contemporary objects draw on the past. The installation prompted visitors to reconsider the otherwise empty castle as a place once full of life, both different and familiar to their own. As an inspiration to design practice, the castle effected a valuable decentering of our present priorities, towards a position that actively engages with the past in a more balanced past-present-future continuum.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAMPS Proceedings Series
PublisherArchitecture Media Politics Society
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 11 Dec 2023
EventRe-imagining Aydon - Aydon Castle, Corbridge, United Kingdom
Duration: 1 Jun 202331 Oct 2023

Publication series

NameAMPS proceedings series
PublisherArchitecture Media Politics Society
ISSN (Print)2398-9467


ExhibitionRe-imagining Aydon
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
Internet address

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